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Herd loses late lead to WKU

January 29, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Western Kentucky University guard Taveion Hollingsworth committed a foul, then was hit with a technical foul that put Marshall Thundering Herd guard Jon Elmore at the foul line with 4:39 left Saturday night in a men’s basketball game in sold-out E.A. Diddle Arena.

Elmore quieted the capacity-plus crowd of 7,362 (7,326 is capacity) briefly by sinking four consecutive free throws and Marshall had a 74-70 lead.

Western Kentucky rallied with 15 unanswered points in the final 3:14, Marshall lost forwards Ajdin Penava and Darius George to personal fouls within 34 seconds of each other and the Hilltoppers defeated the Herd 85-74.

It was the second time Western Kentucky beat Marshall this season, but nothing like a Jan. 6 game in Cam Henderson Center when the Hilltoppers rolled to a 112-87 victory.

“That was a great atmosphere for a game,” Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said. “Obviously, it’s not the result we would have liked, but it’s good for the conference and for the sport of basketball. I’ve said it before, I would rather lose in front of 10,000 people instead of winning in front of 10 people.

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“If you win in front of 10, that means people don’t care.”

Western Kentucky moved its season record to 15-6 and remains tied with Old Dominion for second in C-USA at 7-1

Next game

MARSHALL (14-7, 5-3) at UTSA (11-11, 4-5)

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Convocation Center (2,650), San Antonio, Texas

TV: beIn Sports

Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM

behind Middle Tennessee at 8-1. Marshall is still fourth at 14-7 overall and 5-3 conference.

C-USA Player of the Week C.J. Burks paced Marshall with six 3-point baskets and 29 points. The junior guard, however, scored for the final time on a layup with 9:15 left in the game. Junior point guard Elmore checked in with 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Penava, a 6-foot-9 junior averaging 16.7 points and 9.1 rebounds and an NCAA-best 4.89 blocked shots per game, was on the bench early because of foul trouble and played for only 19 of the 40 minutes. His stat line was nine points, four rebounds, four blocks and five fouls.

Marshall started 6-8 freshman Jannson Williams at forward and he left the game after the first four minutes with an unspecified injury.

That basically left Penava and George, a 6-7 freshman, to defend inside against the powerful Hilltoppers. When George fouled out it left nobody.

“We have got to find a way to keep our big men on the court,” D’Antoni said. “Ajdin ran into foul trouble and then we lost Jannson Williams to an injury. Those are really the only two big men we have. We had to play most of the game with a fringe guard/forward and four guards the rest of the way.”

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Western Kentucky 6-9 grad student Dwight Coleby had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Marshall’s 6-4 Rondale Watson did a good defensive job for much of the second half holding 6-7 senior Justin Johnson of the Hilltoppers to eight points and 12 rebounds.

Graduate guard Darius Thompson’s 20 points led the home team.

Marshall used a 9-2 run with all the points provided by Burks to take its first lead, 59-58, at 12:12 of the second half. Burks made a 3-point shot, was fouled attempting another one and connected on three free throws before sinking another 3-pointer in the mini run.

The teams were tied 65-65 and 70-70 before Elmore completed the four-point play at the foul line.

Western Kentucky’s big final push was led by junior guard Lamonte Bearden with seven of his 12 points. During that final stretch Marshall missed all eight of its shots and had two turnovers with the fifth fouls called on Penava and George both on offense.